Conference Recaps 2016

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We had a wonderful time at the 40th Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 11-13, 2016 at the lovely Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.  Highlights included the Cherry Blossom Bash Dinner, International Spy Happy Hour, and our Stars and Stripes Soiree Gala Dinner to close out the conference.

The pre-conference activities included CWE Boot Camp and the CSE Preview, certification exams, and a tour of Virginia Wine Country. Our opening keynote Speaker, Bill Deutsch, mesmerized the crowd with his stories of building a wine business through the beginnings of the modern wine industry in America, followed by three days of over 56 unique and fascinating speakers and topics ranging from American Rum and Aquavit, to tasting strategies and minerality, to the wines of Austria, Burgundy, Tuscany and beyond!

We welcomed Barry Wiss in as SWE’s new president, announced our  newest board members, and released 300 new questions to our SWE Wine and Spirits App!

Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers – the next best thing to being there!

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Spain’s Single Vineyard Estates – presented by Nora Z. Favelukes : Nora began this session with a quick overview of her wines and their regions. She then gave an overview of the Spanish wine classifications—both old (including vino de mesa and vino de Calidad) and new (including DOs, DOCa, vino de la tierra and vino de pago). She then made a clear and important differentiation between vinos de pago—which represents the highest category of wine classification within Spanish wine law—and the wines of the Grandes Pagos de España—which is a private association of single vineyard wine producers from all over Spain. The members of Grandes Pagos de España are dedicated to upholding and promoting the culture of the historic and outstanding single vineyard estates of Spain.

The tasting portion of the session began with a Gramona III Gran Reserve “Lustros” Cava from 2007, followed by a 100% Garnacha Tinta from the Somontano DO. This was followed by a single-estate Finca Valpiedra Rioja DOCa Reserva 2009, Numanthia Toro Tinto DO 2009, an impressive Mustiguillo Quincha Corral Vino de Pago 2012, and Mas Doix Doix Vinyes Velles 2012 from DOQ Priorat (among others). Click here to download the Tasting Sheets-Spain’s Single Vineyard Estates-presented by Nora Favelukas, as well as the handout from the session here: Spain’s Single Vineyard Estates-presented by Nora Z Favelukes.

Bordeaux – Napa Valley Seminar and Tasting: Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW, DWS, of the Bordeaux Wine Council, accompanied by Connor Best, CSW, of Napa Valley Vintners and Linda Lawry, DWS, CWE, of the International Wine Center presented a “compare and contrast” session which pitted Bordeaux wines alongside Napa Valley Wines.

After a detailed introduction, three groups of wines were tasted side-by-side: the first round showcased Sauvignon Blanc-based white wines, followed by a flight of Cabernet Sauvignon-based red wines, followed by another flight of reds dominated by Merlot. You may download their presentation, which includes details on the wines sampled, here: Bordeaux-Napa Valley Comparative Tasting-presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW, DWS.

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A Side of Bourgogne Yet to be Discovered – presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW: Did you know that within each subregion of Bourgogne, there are many appellations that remain relatively obscure to the US Market?  In this session, attendees were able to examine a good number of these lesser-known AOCs and just what it is about them that merits consideration by the US—both trade and consumer.

Beginning with the far north of Bourgogne, undiscovered regions include Saint-Bris AOC which produces a white wine based on Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, Petit Chablis with its Chardonnay, and Irancy which produces red with based on Pinot Noir with up to 10% César.

Among the Côte d’Or, regions, some standout “undiscovered” regions include the AOC of the Hautes Côtes de Nuits; the attendees were able to sample a white wine from this AOC as well as red wines from Auxey Duresses, Givry Premier Cru, Monthélie, and Fixin.

The area of the Côte Chalonnaise includes the “undiscovered” areas of Bouzeron, known for its Aligoté, as well as the AOCs of Givry, Mercurey, Rully, and Montagny (which provided another delicious white wine for the group to try). The Mâconnais contains the familiar regions of Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran, but as this class found out, the AOCs of Pouilly-Loché, Pouilly-Vinzelles, and Viré-Clessé produce delicious wines as well! For more information on the undiscovered AOCs of Bourgogne, and details on the wines served at the session, click here to download the slideshow: a-side-of-bourgogne-yet-to-be-discovered-presented-by-jay-youmans-mw

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International Bordeaux Blends—Blind Tasting Seminar, presented by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW:  This session began with a discussion of the history of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety, beginning with its origin in (assumed) early eighteenth century France (in Bordeaux’s Médoc), all the way through the prolific grapes off-spring varieties of Marselan, Centurian, and Ruby Cabernet.

The physical characteristics of the grape (high vigor, late budding, thick-skinned, high tannin) and growing areas were discussed (France, followed by Chile, California, Australia, China, and Argentina). Following this, the grape’s most popular blending partner were examined; the most important being Merlot, followed by Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère, Shiraz, and Sangiovese.

Then, the blind tasting began. Ten Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from around the world, in vintages ranging from 2009 to 2013 were tasted blind, followed by a discussion of the wine’s major characteristics and flavor attributes. After each discussion, the attendees were invited to decide whether the wines was New World or Old World, give a possible region of origin, and guestimate the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine. For more information on the session and the wines included in the tasting, download the slide show here:  international-bordeaux-blends-blind-tasting-and-seminar-presented-by-eric-hemer-cwe-ms-mw

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Wines of Ningxia China: Old World, New World, or Unique presented by Houghton Lee and Tommy Lam: Located somewhat in central China, Ningxia is a young a fast-growing wine region. International grape varieties were first brought to the area in 1982 and there are now 85 operating wineries and over 87,000 commercial acres of vines. China’s first geographically protected wine region, the Eastern Foot of Helan Mountain, is located in Ningxia.

The leading white grape varieties of Ningxia are Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Riesling, and Vidal. Red grapes are more widely planted than white varieties and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir (among others).

The tasting portion of the session began with Kanaan Winery Riesling 2013 and Legacy Peak Chardonnay 2014. From there, the tasting focused on red varieties beginning with Sha-Po-Tou Winery’s Cabernet Gernischt 2013, Domaine Pushance Marselan 2014, and Chateau Zhihui Yuanshi “Son of Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. For more information on the Ningxia wine region and the wines tasting at the session, click here to download the: wines-of-ningxia-china-presented-by-hougton-lee-and-tommy-lam

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Stellenbosch—Seven Wards, or More: Quick! Can you name the 7 wards of the Stellenbosch District? Surely, the attendees of Jim Clarke’s session, “Stellenbosch—Seven Wards, or More?” can!

After a slide show highlighting the beauty of South Africa’s winelands and the unique features of the Stellenbosch Region, attendees embarked on a tasting tour of the seven wards. The wines included Lanzerac Chardonnay from the Jonkershoek Valley and Rudi Schultz Syrah from the Bottelary Ward. For more information on the 7 wards and the wines tasted during the session, click here: Stellenbosch-Seven Wards or More-presented by Jim Clarke. For more information on the wines, click here to download the: Tech Sheets from Jim Clarke’s Stellenbosch session

Gaja—A Story in Three Estates, presented by John Rielly, CSW: In this session, John Rielly gave an up close and personal view of three legendary Gaja Estates in Bolgheri, Piedmond, and Montalcino. To see the gorgeous pictures and experience the stories for yourself, click here to download the slide show: Gaja a story of three estates presented by John Rielly

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American Rum: From Pirates to Pineapples, its History and Innovations: We may never know for sure where the first rum was produced, but most experts agree that the likely birthplace of rum is Barbados—and we do know for certain that the first written record of the use of the term “Rum” was in 1658, concerning the legal recording of a Barbados planation sale that included “four large mastrick cisterns for the liquor for rum.”

But here’s an interesting twist—as discovered by attendees of David Singer’s session entitled “American Rum: From Pirates to Pineapples, its History and Innovations”—the first American distillery was located in Providence, Rhode Island by 1684 (although Boston quickly became the center for American rum production). Several different rums produced at the Privateer Distillery in Ipswich, MA were tasted, including Privateer White, Queen’s Share, and Privateer Amber. After a discussion of Hawaii’s heirloom sugarcane varieties, several agricole-style rums produced at Hawaii’s Manulele Distillery were also sampled.

To learn more about American rum—including Privateer rum and the delectable rum produced in Hawaii—click here: American Rum from Pirates to Pineapples-presented by David Singer CWE, CSS

Exploring Aquavit, the Spirit of the Nordics – presented by Christer Anders Olsen: Many people are aware of Aquavit, and know that it is a caraway-flavored spirit produced and consumed throughout Scandinavia. However, there is so much more to know! For instance, Aquavit is very similar to gin in terms of production, and it may be flavored with caraway or dill seeds. Norway has a PGI for its Aquavit, which must be produced using a potato-based spirit produced in Norway using a minimum of at least 95% Norwegian potatoes.

During the session, several different styles of Aquavit were tasted, and it was discussed how Aquavit could replace gin in mixology, while heavier styles could be considered best for “sipping” and could replace whisky. Food pairings based on flavor profile and degree of maturation were also discussed. The details of this session are captured very well in the accompanying slideshow, which may be downloaded by clicking here: exploring-aquavit-presented-by-christer-anders-olsen For even more information, click here to download a useful xxx.

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Climate, Grapes, and Wine: Understanding Terroir Influences in a Variable and Changing Climate  was the topic covered by Gregory V. Jones, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at Southern Oregon University.

Dr. Jones gave attendees an overview of the changing wine map, noting that commercial vineyards and wineries are now located in such non-traditional areas as India, south China, Beijing, and Vietnam (among many others). The reasons behind these burgeoning areas were also discussed, and include the change from national to international economics, changing demographics, growing demand, the never-ending search for the “next new thing,” and—perhaps—the role of climate change.

To read the fascinating science behind these ideas, click here to download the slide deck for this session:Climate, Grapes, and Wine-presented by Gregory Jones

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Not all Cavas are Created Equal: Tracy Ellen Kamens, CWE, asked the question: Is Luxury Cava an oxymoron, or a paradigm? Tracy told the story of the history of Cava, starting in 1872 when José Raventós produced the first sparkling wine made using the Traditional Method in the Penedès region. The Codorníu cellars at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia were then built, and by the early 1900’s, the facility was producing about 100,000 bottles of cava per year.

The grapes of Cava were discussed, which include the leading varieties of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, as well as the minor grapes of Garnacha Tinta, Trepat, Pinot Noir, Subirat Parent, and Monastrell.

All along the way, a variety of Cavas were tasted, which included Alta Alella Bruant 2014 Brut Nature, Parés Baltà Blanca Cusiné Gran Reserva Brut Nature, and Agustí Torelló Mata Gran Reserva Barrica Brut Nature 2010. Click here to download the slideshow for All Cava is not Created Equal-presented by Tracey Ellen Kamens, CWE, and click here to download Tasting Notes – All Cava is not Created Equal-presented by Tracey Ellen Kamens CWE.

New Generation Bordeaux: Presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW and Linda Lawry, DWS, CWE, this session focused on the emerging generation of 30-40 something, passionate young winegrowers in Bordeaux. This creative group is interested in using the latest technology and innovation while still respecting the tradition and heritage of Bordeaux while expanding the reach of Bordeaux to include more reasonably priced wines that are suitable for casual, everyday consumption as well as special occasions.

Wines tasted included Le Rosé de Floridene 2014, a pale, direct-press rosé from an organically-farmed estate owned by the late Professor Denis Dubourdieu and his wife Florence; La Cuvée Bistrot de Puy Arnaud, produced with 70% Merlot and 30% grown on a biodynamic estate, and L’Atypic de Peybonhomme 2010, Vin de France—50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet Franc  (biodynamically grown). Click here for a copy of the handout and slide show from the session New Generation Bordeaux-presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams.

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Vino Nobile di Montepulciano—Tuscany’s Tiny Gem:  In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the DOC, Silvia Loriga and Paul Wagner presented a session all about Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile DOC is tiny–just 40,000 acres (16,500 ha) in total area, with less than 75 bottling wineries producing the wines. The main grape of the area is Sangiovese, here often known as Prugnolo Gentile. Two wines are produced within the DOC–the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which requires at least two years of aging, and Vino Nobile Riserva, which requires a minimum of three.

After a slide show of some of the cultural icons of Montepulciano, including the tradition of Bravìo delle Botti as well as local landmarks including the Fortress of Montepulciano and the Well of the Griffon and Lions, a wine tasting commenced. Wines tasted included the 2012 vintage of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Boscarelli, Dei, Fattoria La Braccesca, Salcheto, and Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta. Click here to download the slideshow from the session Vino Nobile di Montepulciano-Tuscany’s Hidden Gem.

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Dry White Bordeaux: Presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW and Linda Lawry, DWS, CWE: This class started with a discussion of dry white wines in the overall context of Bordeaux, and it was quite enlightening! For instance, dry white wines represent only about 9% of the output of Bordeaux—and this includes Crémant! To put the numbers into context, Bordeaux has 10 appellations and 24,000 acres (9.800 ha) of vines dedicated to white wine. Of the vineyard area, about 47% is dedicated to Sémillon, 45% to Sauvignon Blanc, 6% to Muscadelle, and the remaining 2% to a smattering of other allowed grape varieties that include Colombard Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Merlot Blanc and Folle Blanche.

This introduction was followed by a deep discussion of the grape varieties, soils, and winemaking techniques used in conjunction with the wine whites of Bordeaux. Following this, was a tasting that highlighted some of the leading white wine appellations of Bordeaux. Included in the tasting were the following wines: Château Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes 2015 Entre-Deux-Mers, Château La Freynelle Bordeaux Blanc 2015, Château du Champs du Treilles “Vin Passion” Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux 2013, and Château de Cérons Graves Blanc 2013. These wines represented the following white wine appellations of Bordeaux: Entre-Deux-Mers AOC (exclusive to white wines), Bordeaux Blanc AOC (the largest white wine appellation), Sainte-Fox-Bordeaux AOC (an appellation for red, white, and sweet whites), and Graves AOC (an appellation for both whites and reds). To discover the rest of the wines tasted, and the rest of the story of dry white Bordeaux, click here to download the handout and slide show for Dry White Bordeaux-presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW, DWS.

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Betting on Malbec–the Different Terroirs of Cahors: Presented by Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux: This fascinating session started out with the story of the history of “the Black Wine of Cahors.” Here’s just a small bit of the story: Jean XXII, the second Pope in Avignon, was born in Cahors and brought a winemaker from Cahors with him to plant the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and to help build the Palace of Avignon. For many generations in the pre-phylloxera era, Malbec was one of the main grapes planted in Bordeaux. While the Malbec grapes in Bordeaux and Cahors were decimated by phylloxera, by this time Michel A. Pouget had brought the Malbec grape to Argentina where it continues to thrive.

Today, while there are over 40,000 hectares of Malbec in Argentina, there are approximately 4,400 hectares in Cahors. The region of Cahors is about 45 miles long by 15 miles wide, with over 300 different producers. Georges Vigouroux is considered to be one of the pioneers of the modern era of Cahors, having purchased and restored the Château de Mercues, the oldest château in Cahors, in 1983. The château now houses a winery and hotel, and is credited with the beginnings of “oenotourism” in the area.

The session continued with a discussion of the soils and terroir of Cahors, and ended with a tasting that included Château Leret-Monpezat Grand Vin Cahors 2012, Crocus ‘L’Atelier’ Malbec de Cahors 2012, and Chateau de Haute-Serre Malbec de Cahors 2014 (among others). To read more about the wines and the session, click here to download the slideshow – Betting on Malbec-the Terroirs of Cahors-presented by Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux.

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Exploring the Haut-Savoie in Wines and Spirits: presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE—Hoke Harden CSW, CSE took his class on a voyage through history from the Carolingian Empire, to the Kingdom of Arles, and finally to the House of Savoy. Following the expansion of a single county, which became a Duchy, which included a Principality, which became a Kingdom, then another larger Kingdom, the House of Savoy also contained diverse and remarkable wine- and spirit-producing regions, which included, at times, Savoy, Bugey, Isere, Aosta, and Piedmont, among others.

Wines tasted included Berthollier Chignin Vielles Vignes 2013 (Jacquere) Vin de Savoie, Maison Anselmet Torrette Superieur Vallée d’Aoste DOC, and Tenuta de Fontanafredda Serralunga di Alba Barolo. Spirits and aromatized wines were also included in the tasting, such as Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Vermouth de Chambéry, and Dolin Génépy des Alpes.

To read more about these wines, spirits, and the historic House of Savoy, click here to download the handout and slideshow Wines and Spirits of the House of Savoy-presented by Hoke Harden CSW, CSE.

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Syrah: Chile’s Great Unknown – presented by Felipe Tosso: Syrah is a successful grape in many parts of the world. The largest Syrah-producing countries in the world are (in this order) France, Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, the United States, Italy, and Chile. Chile may be number 8 in the list, but at 15,000 planted acres, Syrah might be considered Chile’s greatest “unknown” grape variety!

Within Chile, the largest plantings of Syrah are located in the Colchagua Valley, Maule Valley and Maipo Valley. The Colchagua Valley has over 6,600 acres planted to Syrah. The Mediterranean climate in the Colchagua Valley, along with the deep, rocky soil of the area tends to produce Syrah-based wines with deep flavors and mineral complexity. As representatives of this style of wine, the Viñedos Emiliana “Coyam” 2012 (a blend of 39% Syrah, 32% Carmenère, 17% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvèdre, and 1% Malbec) was poured along with a Montes Alpha Syrah from 2013. Another interesting wine Colchagua Valley wine known as Ventisquero Pangea 2011 was offered. This unfiltered, richly hued wine is produced using 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Viognier. Click here to download the slide show from the session: Syrah – Chile’s Great Unknown – presented by Felipe Tosso

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Chilean Cabernet Country – presented by Patrick Valette: This session started out with a discussion of the areas in Chile that are best-known for Cabernet Sauvignon. These include the wine areas of Curico, Maipo Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Colchagua Valley, and Maule Valley.

Of the wines from the Maipo Valley, many are grown in the high-elevation Alto Maipo, a cool-climate area with a blend of colluvial and alluvial soils featuring clay, sand, loam, and gravel. Several wines from this area were sampled, including Viña Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Viña Vetisquero Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, and Carmen Gold Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Located about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley is another prime growing area for Cabernet Sauvignon. This area enjoys a nearly “picture perfect” Mediterranean climate, with alternating influences between the cool breezes off of the Pacific Ocean and the winds flowing down from the Andes Mountains. The Montes Alpha 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in vineyard areas known for their granite soils, was a highlight of this part of the tasting.

Another area known for Cabernet is the Cachapoal Valley. This area is planted over 80% to red grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère being the superstars.  A fascinating red blend, Viña VIK, grown in the Millahue subregion of the Cachapoal Valley, is produced form 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Carmenère, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 4% Syrah was featured in this part of the session, and well-received by all! Click here to download the slide show from the session: Chilean Cabernet Country – presented by Patrick Valette

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Advanced Tasting Strategies: Cause and Effect and Objective Factors—presented by Tim Gaiser, MS. The first part of Tim’s session covered the “why” questions in the context of deductive tasting. In other words, what is it about this wine that makes it look, smell, and taste the way it does? This consideration can be very useful for a taster in learning about classic grapes/wine styles in tasting practice, and also exercises the critical thinking used in deductive tasting. Some examples of cause and effect include: primary colors (which are a result of grape variety, time spent in barrel, and/or oxidation); intensity of aroma (which may result from grape variety, climate, ripeness levels, structural elements such as high alcohol, malo-lactic fermentation, and/or oak usage); and body (which may result from alcohol or glycerin level and/or the level of dry extract in a wine). More information on cause and effect may be found on Tim’s blog post titled “Cause and Effect: The Why behind Deductive Tasting.”

Another topic covered in Tim’s presentation was the importance of trying to identify those factors in a wine that are measurable, or objective. Examples of objective factors include basic measurements such as the acid, alcohol, and tannin levels; and may also include aromatic terpenes, pyrazines or thiols; evidence of oak or signs of oxidation. For more information on objective factors, see Tim’s blog post titled “Tasting Strategies.”

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Minerality: Examining, Challenging, & Tasting its Meaning-presented by Roger Bohmrich, MS: Roger started his session with the very interesting fact that the term “minerality” has only recently been widely used as a descriptor for wine. As a matter of fact, the term is not included in Ann Noble’s Wine Aroma Wheel, was not mentioned in Emile Peynaud’s book The Taste of Wine, and did not appear in the Oxford Companion to Wine until the current (2015) edition.

The session went on to confirm the wide-spread belief that mineral-like aromas are not believed to be derived directly from minerals in the soil, and that soil minerals are not the same substance and mineral nutrients.

Along the way, however, the point of view of many “mineral believers” was also discussed, and some of the wines that these “believers” point to as examples were tasted. These included Domaine Patrick Baudouin Anjou “Effusion” 2014, Fritsch Grüner Veltliner “Steinberg” 2015, and Christian Moreau Père & Fils Chablis 2014, among others. Attendees were encourage to rate the wines based on their own perception on minerality—or not—in the glass. The last wine tasted, a Luigi Bosca Mendoza Malbec from 2013, was chosen specifically because it was unlikely to show minerality; a perception with which the great majority of the audience agreed.

In the end, it was concluded that there are two competing hypotheses of minerality in wine: one that holds the view that minerality in wine is a direct expression of minerals in the wine, and one that defines minerality as a complex sensory phenomenon with many causes and expressions. As a result of Roger’s extensive research, he has summarized that the factors that can lead to a mineral perception in wine may include high total acidity, presence of succinic acid, absence of “fruitiness,” presence of volatile thiols, trace elements and salts, as well as culture, psychology, and expectation. For more information, you may download the slide show here: Minerality-Examining, Challenging, and Tasting its Meaning-presented by Rober Bohmrich, MW

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Mexico: A “New” Exciting Wine Country, presented by Sandra Fernandez, CWE: Sandra’s session started with a discussion of the history of wine in Mexico, which dates back to 1200, when a type of wine was produced in the area from honey and fruit, and typically based on a red berry known as acahul. Starting in the 1500’s, vinifera vines were brought to Mexico from Spain and wine was produced in many parts of the colony then referred to as “Nueva España.” In August of 1597, the Hacienda San Lorenzo winery was founded, which is today known as Casa Madero and recognized as the oldest winery in the New World.

Fast forward to today, and Mexico has a blossoming wine industry with a total of 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of commercial vines, over 200 wineries, and 19.5 million liters of annual wine production.

The wine producers of modern day Mexico are spread out over eight wine regions, located mostly in the northern and central parts of the country. The leading wine region—by far—is Baja California, which surrounds the city of Ensenada. The Baja California region, located near the Pacific Coast, enjoys a Mediterranean climate and produces over 80% of Mexico’s wine. For more information on the wines of Mexico, click here to download the handout and slide show from the session:Mexico – a New and Exciting Wine Country – presented by Sandra Fernandeez

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Mindset and the Millennial Learner, presented by Sarah Malik, CSS, CWE, CWS, and Alistair Williams, PhD: Who are the Millennials? They were born in the 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are post-Baby Boomer and pre-Gen X. This means that they make up 100% of the 21–25 year old market, and they are responsible for 42% of the wine consumed in the US. In other words, they are an important market!

This session focused on how to create meaningful learning experiences for Millennials.  Some of the best practices include putting an emphasis on collaboration with others and sharing work assignments, using technology to enhance teaching, and facilitating critical thinking by using Wikis and blogs to enhance an inclusive learning assignment by allowing contribution and editing. For more ideas and information, download the session slide show here: Mindset and the Milennial Learner – presented by Sarah Malik and Alistair Williams

You are What You Drink: A Myth-Busting Update on Wine, Alcohol, and Health – presented by Matila Parente, MD:  Attendees of this session had the opportunity to learn all about the latest findings on alcohol and health. It seems there is some good news, as a bit of alcohol may be beneficial in terms of heart health, Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome and stroke. But there is also a rising wave of dissension and prohibitionism, particularly among certain governments.  There is also some “bad news” concerning alcohol and cancer, binge drinking, and hangovers. What is the key? Moderation in all things, and being aware of the trade-offs. A good place to start is to click here to download the very informative slide show from the session: Are you what you drink – presented by Tilda Parente, MDAre you what you drink – presented by Tilda Parente, MD

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Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine—do they make a Good Marriage? Presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE, and Sarah Hill: Wine and cheese are ageless companions—or so the mythology tells us! This session attempted to cut through the clichés of food and wine pairing (referred to in the session as “cacophony” – which makes sense to anyone who has ever studied the subject) and delve into the “how” and the “why” of food and wine—and specifically cheese and wine—working well (or not working well) together.

Some of the tenants of the session included a true definition of flavor as a combination of taste, smell, tactile sensations, and chemesthesis (among other factors) and the realization that people have differing levels of sensitivity, perceptions, and even preferences to certain taste components and flavors.

In order to explore this subject via experimentation, six different wines representing six different styles of wine were poured alongside six different cheeses (representing the award-winning cheeses of Wisconsin). To wrap up the session, the “new rules” of food and wine pairing were discussed, which include “Cause and effect is real, but whether you like it or not is individualized.” For the rest of the “new rules” as well as details on the wines and cheeses presented at the session, click here to download the session PPT for:Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine – presented by Ed Korry and Sara Hill

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Get Your Teutonic On, presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE: The beginnings of the word Teutonic, as well as the people described by the word may be a bit hazy, but the term is used today to refer to the culture surrounding Germany and central Europe–particularly those that speak German. This covers a wide range of fascinating spirits, beers, and wines–many of which were enjoyed by the attendees of this session!

The tastings began with a unique wine known a Punkt Genau. Punkt Genau is a sparkling Grüner Veltiner from the Weinviertel region of Austria—delicious. This was followed by Stiegl Radler, an Austria beer-fruit juice concoction produced in Salzburg. Other fascinating wines in the line-up included Tramin Lagrein from Italy’s Alto Adige, Markowitsch Rosé from Austria’s Carnuntum region, and Schoffit Chasselas 2012 Vin d’Alsace.

The countries of central Europe are well-known for their spirits, as evidenced by a tasting of Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, and Zirbenz–an Austrian product known as the “Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps.” For more information on getting your Teutonic on, click here to download the slide show from the session:  Get Your Teutonic On – presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE

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Ancient Vines, Modern Wines, presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE: Greece is not only known for being the cradle of viticulture and winemaking, but it is currently the 16th largest wine-producing country in the world. A combination of culture, climate, and soils–including sand from the seas and volcanic soils on the islands–contributes to the high quality and diversity of the modern wines from Greece.

This session presented the 20 main grape varieties used in Greek wines, and offered up tastings based on wine region. The first wine tasted, from Peloponnese region, was Tselepos Amalia Brut, a delicious and unique sparkling wine produced from Moschofilero grapes. This was followed by Pepagiannakos Savatiano 2014. Savatiano is a thick-skinned white grape that is mainly known for its use in Retsina, but this wine from the Markopoulo PGI was crisp and clean. The next set of wines highlighted white grape varieties of Roditis, Malagousia, Robola, and Assyrtiko (from Santorini).

A set of red wines began with Skouras Grande Cuvée, a 100% Agiorgitiko produced from grapes grown in the Peloponnese and (more specifically) Nemea regions. This was followed by wine produced using the Limniona and Xinomavro grape varieties and a red blend from the Rapsani PDO. To wrap it up, a sweet Muscat-based wine, Samos Nectar was poured. To learn more about the wines of Greece and the wines poured during the seminar, download the session slide show here: Ancient Vines, Modern Wines-presented by Edward Korry, CWE, CSS

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A Current Overview of Virginia Wines, presented by Jay Youmans, MW: It all began in the 1600’s, when settlers in Jamestown hoped that the colony of Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire. We all know that didn’t quite turn out as planned, despite the exemplary efforts of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, at his Monticello Estate.

Thing began to improve in the late 1800’s, and in 1873 the world began to take notice of Virginia wines when a Virginia Norton (Vitis aestivalis) wine was named the “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair. Today, Virginia has seven AVAs, over 280 bonded wineries and is the 7th largest producer of vinifera grapes in the nation. The leading grape varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other notable vinifera grapes include Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot.

Starting with Thomas Jefferson, some famous people helped to shape the Virginia wine industry. Modern-day celebrities involved in Virginia wine include the very popular Dave Matthews (of the Dave Matthews band fame) and the inimitable Donald Trump (and family). Leading winemakers involved in the growth of Virginia wines include Giani Zonin (of Casa Vinicola Zonin in Italy’s Veneto)  who planted vineyards at Barboursville Vineyards in the 1970’s, and Dennis Horton (Of “Horton’s Norton” fame) who began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983.

The wines tasted during the session included Michael Shaps 2014 Petit Manseng, Barboursville Vineyards 2015 Vermentino, Sunset Hills Petit Verdot and Keswick Vineyards 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve. For more information on the wines of Virginia, click here to download the slideshow from the session: A Current Overview of Virginia Wines-presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW

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Diamonds in the Rough: The Many Faces of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco was presented by Alan Tardi. Alan began his session by acknowledging that Prosecco has recently skyrocketed to international fame, becoming (by some counts) the world’s most popular sparkling wine. But while everyone knows Prosecco, and people all over the world enjoy a Bellini or a Spritz…very few people know what Prosecco really is.

2009 was a decisive year for Prosecco. By this time they wine was well known throughout the world and growing rapidly in popularity, but there was some confusion, as the name was not officially recognized outside of Italy and was not legally tied to its specific area of origin, which left it wide open to counterfeit and abuse.  As such, three things occurred in 2009: the new Prosecco DOC was created, the classic Prosecco territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene was upgraded to DOCG status, and the name of the principal grape variety—Prosecco—was changed to Glera (an historical synonym) so the well-known name could be specifically applied to the region.

The tasting portion of the session included an interesting range of wines produced within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco area—including still (tranquillo) wines such as Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG “Canto Fermo” Tranquillo 2015, a Gregoletto 100% Verdiso (produced under the Colli Trevigiani IGT), and the parcel-specific “Particella 68” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2015 Brut from Sorelle Bronca. For more information on the session and the wines, click here to download the slide show: diamonds-in-the-rough-the-many-faces-of-prosecco-docg-presented-by-alan-tardi

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Liguria—Italy’s Unsung Region was presented by Susannah Gold, CSS, CSW:   Have you heard of Liguria? It is a very narrow strip of land between the Ligurian Sea, the Alps and the Apennines—bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. Perhaps its best-known feature is the Cinque Terre.

Being so close to the sea, as you can imagine the area has an overall mild climate, although some spots experience abundant rain and harsh winter winds.  White grapes rule the region, with Vermentino, Bosco, Albarola, Pigato, and Bianchetta Genovese among the leading (and quite interesting) grapes of the region. Some reds are also produced, featuring (among others) the Ciliegiolo, Granaccia (aka Grenache), Ormeasco, and Rossese di Dolceacqua varieties.

Liguria has eight DOCs (one shared with Tuscany) and you can download a pdf of the rules, regulations, and main wine styles of each of these areas here: liguria-disciplinare. For more information on Liguria her wines, as well as details of the wines tasted during Susannah’s session, click here to download the liguria-italys-unsung-region-presented-by-susannah-gold-css-csw.

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Super Tuscany was presented by Paul Poux, CSW: In this interactive session, Paul Poux introduced us to a range of wines from Tuscany that included not just “Super Tuscans” but a variety of other Tuscan wines and regions that are new or reinvented.

These wines included an IGT Trebbiano from Capezzana Winery (better known for Carmignano). This was a delightful white wine described by Paul as having aromas of “almonds, yellow flowers of the field, and vanilla.” Next up was a Chianti— Melini Chianti 2013—packaged in an old-fashioned, wicker-enclosed bottle that attendees learned was known as a “fiasco.”

After a discussion on how the world-wide reputation of Chianti fell (for a short time) into quite a funk, the audience relished several of the finest examples of Chianti available, including Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva, and a few samples of the “newest” designation of Chianti, the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione.

Following the Chiantis, several of Tuscany’s other well-known reds were presented, including Tignanello 2011 (Toscana IGT), Carmignano, Brunello di Montalcino, and Morellino di Scansano. The class ended on a high note with a sampling of two true Super Tuscans, including Ca’Marcanda Bolgheri 2011and Bolgheri Sassicaia 2011. For more information on Paul’s session, click here to download the slides: super-tuscany-presented-by-paul-poux-csw

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What’s so Great about Oak, presented by Bob Sechrist: This session began with the attendees discovering that oak and references to oak are most likely all around them. For proof, just look at the back of a dime, the cork in your wine bottle, or the wooden buttons on your sweater!

Oak is a common fixture in the production of wine as well, and oak actually shares many characteristics with grapes. While they certainly may look different, the two plants both share the following characteristics: both are keystone species, inter-species crosses are common, they are widely distributed, they are non-specialized, they are native to the Northern Hemisphere, and occupy many ecological niches. In terms of culture, they are both prized by humans, historically significant, highly symbolic, and integral to Western Civilization.

Oak has become the leading wood for use in wine barrels due to its unique structure. This includes a tight grain which permits a gradual extraction of wood flavors and minimized wine loss through evaporation. Oak is also resilient, enabling staves to be bent into the curved shapes required by barrels without breaking. Oak is also high in tannin, which is an important flavor component as well as an effective preservative.

This session progressed into even more fascinating topics such as the world’s best oak forests and the typical characteristics found in their wood, the specifics of oak flavor and aroma compounds, the parts and construction of a barrel, and oak alternatives to barrel use in wine production. For more information on this session, click here to download the slide show: whats-so-great-about-oak-presented-by-robert-sechrist-csw

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Exploring the Back Roads of the Côte d’Or, presented by Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: This session was introduced as a program about Burgundy’s “Blue Collar Wines.” This means a focus on wines that are high on value and (perhaps) low on glamor–but delicious all the same! The reason some otherwise very fine wines are lower in glamor does not necessarily correlate to quality, but more so to location, difficulty in pronunciation (and it accompany lack of popularity), less celebrity, fewer “star” producers, and less distribution.

The region discussed included Marsannay (the northernmost village appellation in the Côte d’Or, Fixin (Gevrey-Chambertin’s “little brother”), Pernand-Vergelesses (which includes 8 premiers crus as well as one-third of the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard), and Savigny-les-Beaune (the second-largest red wine producing village in the Côte de Beaune, after Beaune). For more information on these regions and the wines served during the session, click here to download the slide show: the-backroads-of-the-cote-dor-presented-by-don-kinnan-cwe

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Alluring Italy—Wicked Wines, Celestial Cheeses, presented by Sharron McCarthy, CSW: This session began with an overview of Italian wines including the regions, classifications, and amazing diversity of grapes that make up Italian wine. Also included in the discussion was the range of cheese produced by Italy. Then, the session progressed into a tasting of “wicked” Italian wines paired with a selection of “celestial” Italian cheeses.

The first paring featured a wine from the Veneto, Cantine Maschio Sparkling Rosé produced from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Raboso grapes. This wine was paired with Quadrello di Bufala cheese from Lombardy. This was followed by a crisp, dry 100%Vermentino La Pettegola from the Toscana IGT paired Pantaleo, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese from Sardinia. Selections from Tuscany included Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Summus Estate Bottled Toscana IGT—a deep, ruby red blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Cheeses paired with the Tuscan wines included Pecorino Toscano (sheep’s milk) and Fontina Val d’Aosta.

Wines and cheeses from Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto followed, including a delectable Amarone della Valpolicella. To wrap things up, a classic sweet-and-savory pairing was demonstrated using Florus Moscadello di Montalcino late harvest dessert with serve with Gorgonzola Dolce. For more information on the wicked wines and celestial cheeses of Italy, download the session slide show here: alluring-italy-wicked-wines-celestial-cheeses-presented-by-sharron-mccarthy-csw Sharron also has an overview of Italian wines available for download here: overview-of-italy-2016-sharron-mccarthy

This page is a work-in-progress and we will be adding more information, pictures, and session recaps in the coming days! If you are a speaker and would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

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